Pepper: Ají Charapita
Updated: Sep 19, 2022
Native of Peru, from the northern jungles, this pepper serves as the principal ají (a chili pepper that ranges in pungency from mild to very hot) in the cuisine of regions such as Loreto and San Martin.
For how rare it is grown outside of Peru, it is thought to be the most expensive pepper in the world, probably due for it manual label. The pepper is so small it would take HOURS to harvest them all. It's not quite clear where the reference "most expensive in the world" came from, but from growing it myself I can see just how labour intensive it can be.
It has recently become more commercially known and available online, however it is still new to the outside world. However in Peru, they are pickled in vinegar and served as an accompaniment to classic jungle dishes such as juanes, patacones, tacacho, and patarascha.
What does Ají Charapita Need to Thrive?
Peppers are tropical plants. They need good heat, air circulation and moisture to really thrive. After transplanting the seedlings, it takes 60 to 120 days for the plant to start bearing fruit. It will continue to produce for 2 months depending on your climate and growing season. When provided with then right conditions they can grow to be 1 meter in height.
What does Ají Charapita Look and Taste Like?
This plant produces hundreds of hot, small, round pea size peppers. They start off green changing to a deep yellow. The Peppers have citrus sweet tones and is on the same playing field as a cayenne pepper when it comes to heat.
Heat Level: 30,000-50,000 SHU
This fiery little pepper packs a punch when it comes to heat. Don't be fooled by it's size. It's considered to be 4 to 20x hotter than a jalapeño. They don't call them "little yellow fire balls" for nothing.
The small peppers will keep 1-2 weeks when stored fresh, whole, and unwashed in then refrigerator.
How to Use Ají Charapita?
Ají Charapita can be used fresh, fermented and dried.
- When consuming fresh, finely chop and mix into salsas and sauces, soups or stews.
- Extracting the juices for jams, condiments, marinades, and sauces.
- Ferment in a hot sauce or pickle them for later use.
- Dry to make a powder or maybe eat them like little tiny pepper chips (if you dare!)
- More recipes coming soon